Monday, June 19, 2006

Resonant Golf Wisdom for Phil Fans This Morning

“Golf is good for the soul. You get so mad at yourself you forget to hate your enemies.”

-Will Rogers

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Frisian flag

Frisian: language of my ancestors, sibling to English
On Language‘ 6/7/06

With a vague sense of ethnic pride, a vaguer sense that I owed it to my great-grandfather and a complete ignorance of the Frisian language, I attended the 50th and final Frisian worship service in Grand Rapids, Mich., last month.

For me, the service hammered home a key distinction about my own ethnicity. I usually say that my ancestors were Dutch. But my great-grandfather, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1890, might have objected to that claim. Technically, he was Frisian, and for Frisians, that is more than just a technicality.

Friesland is a province of the Netherlands along that country's northern coast, but dating back to the ancient days when it was a vast kingdom and maritime power, it has always been its own country, in a way.

The Frisians are one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe and one of the most doggedly independent. A famous Frisian slogan is "Frysk en Frij," meaning "Frisian and Free."

The Frisian language also represents a piece of linguistic trivia: Old Frisian was the closest relative of Old English, its sibling in the West Germanic language family. Linguists tend to say that in its earliest days, English used to sound a lot like German. But it's closer to the truth to say that English used to sound a lot like Frisian.

So as a Frisian descendant and an aspiring linguist, I had two good reasons to attend the final Frisian-language worship service in Grand Rapids, where an annual Frisian service has been held since 1957 in an area church.

Slate Blogs the Bible
xpost with Worship Weblog

Christianity Today's Weblog recommends Slate's series 'Blogging the Bible'. CT says:

It's really quite interesting to read the non-observant Jew's reactions as he goes through the first few chapters of Genesis. He's a wonderful writer, if not the world's most trained exegete. ...

It's fun and refreshing stuff, especially for us Protestants who have a long history of believing that all the answers to Scripture's mysteries are self-evident if we'd only read it for ourselves. For now, Plotz is only up to Genesis 25—we'll be even more impressed if he gets beyond Leviticus, the bane of many a "read through the Bible" project.

(That's non-observant Jew, not non-observant writer...)

Update: Erica (a Rev) likes it too

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Beware of Pretend WMD's
From Meet the Press last Sunday:

RUSSERT: Not having found weapons of mass destruction, why do you think Saddam engaged in this cat-and-mouse game and didn’t come clean?

BLIX: That’s a good question, and one possibility is that he was like someone hanging a sign on the door, “Beware of the dog,” without having a dog--when he wanted to tell Iran, and he wanted to tell others that “I’m still dangerous.”

Friday, June 02, 2006

Vocab lists: a waste of mind
xpost with Inflections

From a provocative paper in JETS called "Greek vocabulary acquisition using semantic domains" (which discusses NT Greek but has broader applications):

Some L2 teachers have championed semantics-based approaches for vocabulary acquisition. John T. Crow claims that semantic fields are the best way to expand an individual's vocabulary and discourages the use of decontextualized word lists based on frequency of occurrence computations.21 He claims that the use of these lists has been the primary teaching aid of vocabulary, although "rote learning is one of the most inefficient applications of human cognitive facilities."